Wine importer Dillons recently staged a tasting of the latest release of Australian sparkler, Domaine Chandon, and on hand was estate winemaker, Glenn Thompson. Not only was the conventional sparkler on offer but tasters could also sample a glass of some of the base wines that go into the final blend- and that’s not something you get to do every day.
This Australian operation is an outpost of Champagne producer Moet et Chandon and it’s the wine formerly known as Green Point. The sparklers are made in the traditional Champagne method, with the second fermentation in bottle, and they are also a blend of the traditional Champagne varieties, chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. The price, however, is not traditional; currently retailing at e19.99, this has to be one of the best value sparklers around.
Of course, nothing is good value if it doesn’t taste good and the quality of base wines, which must combine fruit concentration with high levels of acidity, is vital. Glenn Thompson offered samples of each of the three varieties from vintage 2010. The chardonnay was, I thought, strikingly good, showing the great support structure you need in a wine, which is to be the foundation of a blend. It had noticable green apple skin elements, giving it a very firm structure, with racey acidity and nicely defined flavours of citrus and green apple. The pinot noir was softer, with an appealing aromatic quality, while the pinot meunier, often dismissed as the low quality ugly sister, had very specific flavours of Bramley apple, which I thought would add some nice depth to a blend. The wines are not released until 18 months after vintage so when it came to the final product, we were tasting 2008. It had a suitably busy mousse, a tasty blend of apple and lemon flavours and gentle hints of nutty toast.
At its current price, it should be a good seller through the summer and in the run-up to next Christmas.